June 21, 2024
1 Solar System Way, Planet Earth, USA

I Met a Money-Eating Ax Murderer in Sorry, We're Closed and Now You Can Too

In Sorry we are closed, an axe-murdering businesswoman named Jenny is described in newspaper clippings as a serial embezzler and the “richest bachelorette in town.” In addition to being a dry reflection of sensationalist reports about women committing crimes (bad woman! sexy, bad woman!), this is also the kind of incidental character building you can expect in this cheerful, retro-style survival horror . play like Silent Hill loaded with the hot pink body horror of porpentino interactive fiction. And judging by my hour-long restless stroll through the game's demo's decrepit subway station, it's a powerful combination.

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You play a depressed breakup victim named Michelle in her “last days” while being cursed by a third eye. Soon enough, she's stumbling through dirty hallways and shooting in terror at twisted monsters that just won't die. It's all down to that late '90s Resident Evil look with fixed and tracking cameras. When you meet Jenny, she has already killed a man, ripped the bills out of his pockets and stuffed them into her mouth, yelling “MAXIMIZE THE PROFITS!” She is a real catch.

Jenny eats money after murdering a man.
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun / Akupara Games

I'm not the first of us to read the demo, of course. “His London layers are like Silent Hill via Persona and Paradise Killer,” said Alice O (RPS at peace) when she added him to our 75 most anticipated games of 2024 list. She wasn't wrong.

It feels like those old games. What's more, he's adept at the old habit of survival horror understatement (aka the “Dog house” effect). In a room, the portrait of a terrifying woman looms over you, her white eyes and noseless face staring into your soul. “She is well dressed,” the game says. In another room, you find the twisted corpses of some otherworldly creatures hanging from the walls, maybe they are even human, mutilated beyond recognition. “This screen has a strong smell,” she says.

I love this. The impartial narrator's voice that accompanies the ambient moments in old horror games, in addition to being incredibly comical, suggests a kind of mental closure. As if part of the game itself continues to be denied. As if the puppeteers of this world, perhaps even the player himself, were indifferent and unmoved by the terror that assails Heather Mason or Jill Valentine. You never find a bunch of severed heads and bloody torsos. You find “There is nothing unusual here”.

But I may have focused on the wrong thing. When you play, you'll be too busy using our hero's third eye to change the immediate environment around your character. This is partly cosmetic; The viscera-covered cages become simple vending machines as you pass by. A huge rusty safe, under the light of your third eye lamp, becomes a pile of ordinary luggage.

Michelle, the protagonist of Sorry We're Closed, asks someone if they're okay through the bathroom door in a dirty bathroom.

An ax murderer named Jenny threatens a man for money.

Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun / Akupara Games

It also has a practical effect. The thorny obstructions in the dirty world are reduced to thin stalks that you can freely pass through. Bathroom sinks that dispense dirty water in the dimension of disgust will spew clean water under the influence of the third eye aura, restoring your health. Meanwhile, enemies will be briefly stunned when you click your fingers to activate the eye, and a weak spot will be revealed when they enter the aura. First shot. As long as you remember that you can't hit anything outside the aura.

There was a time when old games like silent hill 3 and Kain's Legacy: Soul Reaver They were obsessed with the idea of ​​two parallel dimensions existing within the same space. But the technical solutions applied to that idea always made it seem like you were simply moving from one space to another. Sorry We're Closed pursues the same dimension-hopping dream as those old designers, but takes the modern approach that lets you see the difference between realms in real time.

This may not seem significant to many gamers in the post-Portal and Titanfall 2 world we live in today, but if the creators of Team Silent in 2003 could be shown the third eye effects of Sorry We're Closed ( and, come on, Thinking about it, Bloober Team The medium), your 2000s eyeballs probably would have popped out of their sockets and rolled into a fetid drain. As a developer, it should be a point of pride to know that you have a tool in your rusty toolbox that the horror heroes of yesteryear would have loved to use, if only they had the chance.

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